This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

£3 Million Rose, Ageratum, Chelsea Flower Show Garden


It has just been announced that probably the most expensive rose ever to be developed is to be launched at the Chelsea Flower Show in London in a couple of weeks time. Costing an estimated £3 million (US$5.54 million) and taking 14 years to create, it has been produced by David Austin Roses, Albrighton, near Wolverhampton in the English midlands. David Austin, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday and is unquestionably the most influential rose breeder of the past century, is putting the rose on sale throughout the world. Named ‘Juliet’ the apricot coloured rose is described as delicate with a full rosette shape and a light tea fragrance. It is especially useful for cutting, being bred to look good when the blossoms are open. At the Chelsea Flower Show, the team from David Austin Roses will create a set piece of cut blossoms wrapped around a four-poster bed. Bouquets of the new rose are currently on sale at up to £95 (US$175) and are being bought even at that extraordinarily high price.

’John Paul II’

Another important rose launched recently in the United States, just before I started this blog, is named for the late Pope John Paul II. It was raised by Jackson and Perkins, Medford, Oregon, who this year are celebrating 130 years in the nursery business. The rose, which was especially selected by the Vatican to honour the late pontiff, is a luminous white with refreshing, somewhat citrus-like fragrance. Ten percent of the net proceeds from the sale of each rose will be put at the disposal of the Vatican, who have indicated that it will be used for charitable work amongst the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa. This first year there are a limited number of 2,500 bushes available.

Most gardeners regard the pretty little blue, or occasionally pink or white flowered Ageratum, as a bedding plant, often using to define the edge of a planting in a formal bedding scheme. I have never considered ageratum to be an important cut flower, but the florist industry has taken the recently introduced ‘Esparanza’ to its heart. It is now also likely to become an important plant for the home gardener, being easily grown and suitable for border cultivation as well as cutting.

Ageratum ‘Esparanza’

The bright blue flowers are about 1.5m (5/8in) in diameter and produced in closely packed clusters on stems that are held above soft downy foliage. The plants grow up to 90cm (36ins) tall, but when used as cut flowers the average stem length is around 70cm ((28ins), and florists say that the blossoms have a vase life of around twelve days, so it would seem to have excellent prospects for the cutting border. In addition to the blue flowering ‘Esparanza’ there is a white cultivar called ‘Eskimo’ and a pink one known as ‘Esmee’. Unlike the bedding ageratums, which are raised from seed, these cut flower kinds are increased from short stem cuttings.

Chelsea Show Gardens Preview
During each of the days running up to the Chelsea Flower Show I am going to preview a show garden. Although these are often regarded as garden theatre and not as sustainable under normal gardening conditions, they are often full of interesting and innovative ideas which can be taken, at least in part, and used in our gardens at home.

Fleming's Nurseries Australian Garden presented by Trailfinders

This garden is a tailored space that has been designed to give the complete Australian experience. The barbecue space is taken to a new level with a fully functional outdoor kitchen, a relaxed lounge space and a kids play area - all surrounded by typically Australian plantings. The garden allows visitors to experience the best of Australian lifestyle and encourages people to spend more time outside. Within the outdoor kitchen there will be electric cooking, a fridge and even a kitchen sink. A dining table has been specifically designed and constructed to be incorporated into a water feature - water runs between glass and then cascades into a pond below. The water flowing between the glass panels gives a unique effect, while the inscribed quotes and sayings in the glass act as a conversation starter for diners.

New Curcumas to be Launched
A new range of Curcuma, derived from Curcuma alismatifolia, and called the Siam range is being launched on Monday 8th May at FloralHolland Clocks in Naaldwijk, The Netherlands. The new colours range from deep dark pink to sparkling white. They are being launched by KP Holland. Details are presently only available in the Dutch language click here. I hope to have full details in English and to post them here after the launch.


The Lakeland Rose Show
8th and 9th July
Westmorland County Showfield
M6 Junction36
click here.

Happy Gardening



Today’s Sponsor
Gurney's 120 x 60

Juliet: David Austin Roses
John Paul II: Jackson and Perkins
Chelsea Garden: RHS
Curcuma: KP Holland

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